This morning, Alice Munro became the first Canadian author and the 13th woman ever to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. (Good timing: Munro also told The New York Times this summer that she may be done with writing altogether.) In its announcement, the Swedish Academy called Munro, 82, the "master of the contemporary short story," highlighting the fact that she, unlike most Nobel Prize laureates, does not write novels.
Back in 2001—long before she woke up to a particularly exciting voicemail message about her good news—Munro spoke with The Atlantic’s Cara Feinberg about how she fell in love with the format. One reason she was drawn to it was simply its convenience: As Feinberg points out, one of Munro's story collections begins by saying, "A child's illness, relatives coming to stay, a pile-up of unavoidable household jobs, can swallow a work-in-progress as surely as a power failure used to destroy a piece of work in the computer." Though she started writing as a teenager, Munro raised three children while helping her husband run a bookstore, which may explain why Munro didn't publish her first collection until she was 37. But as their full conversation illuminates, there's more to being a short-story writer than simply being pressed for time.